Molavi, A. (2005). The Soul of Iran: A Nation’s Journey to Freedom. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
This book is a monologue of Molavi based on his journey across Iran in an attempt to find out whether the Iranian citizens still harbor ill will against the Americans. For a long time, Iran has not been in good terms with America, and this issue is believed to be the cause of the backwardness experienced in the country. They tend to concentrate more on campaigning against the Americans even more than working to improve their economy. To ensure that the Americans keep off from their country, research shows that they give out only three thousand visas to Americans each year. This is scary even to the Americans and so they prefer not to travel there. This issue happens to be a bother to Molavi who is an Iranian-American journalist as he takes the journey through Iran to find out whether this hatred towards Americans is still on the rise. By the end of the journey, he realizes that the current generation would not mind fostering relations with the American people. Most of them long to obtain green cards and travel to America. Others go as far as condemning the Old Iranian generation for being hostile towards Americans, which they believe, is the reason why they are still in a backward state when compared to the rest of the world.
The main purpose of this monologue is to bring out the aspect of civilization in the present generation. These people are no longer thinking of how they will fight the Americans but instead they wish they were given the opportunity to interact with the Americans and be civilized. The Islamic revolution, which was the root of the conflict between America and Iran, is greatly condemned and the perpetrators highly disregarded. Most of the young people believe that their country could be better off if their folks had spent their time on economically viable activities instead of idling on the streets and chanting the Death of America songs. They are justified in making these allegations since Iran has used many of its resources to fight against the American government, and so their country has remained in a state of poverty. It is ironical that the people of Iran live in poverty yet the country is famous for the production of mass destruction weapons.
The information obtained by Molavi is a clear indication of intellectual Liberalism. The Iranian people realized that the best thing they can do with their lives is not to goon fighting the Americans. America is considered the source of civilization in the whole world and that explains why Iran has remained in the state of backwardness. That long time hatred that has led to numerous terrorist attacks on Americans all over the world is a cause for the bad reputation that the rest of the world holds against Iran. This has prevented foreign investors from investing in the country and has contributed to the poor trade links between Iran and the rest of the world. Besides this, Iran is not able to receive tourists who are afraid for their safety in the country. These are some of the reasons why the young people condemn the past events of terrorism against the American government.
The author of this book is not biased in the presentation of his ideas. The reason behind this allegation is that the issues he addresses are visible in the country. He did not base his arguments on assumptions or imaginations but on real situations in the country. The young people he talks to curse the Iranian revolution believing it is the reason why they never acquired a decent education and why their country is not economically stable. Due to this, they appear bitter about the misfortunes they believe their parents brought over them. This is evident in the conversation between Molavi and the Amir, the Taxi driver who refers to the anti-American campaigners of the 1979 as fools. He says, “We are still paying for the actions of those fools. If they had not taken those Americans hostages, we would be much better off. We would still have relations with America, American companies would do business here, and we would be just a more normal country” (Molavi, 2005). This is an indication of a generation that is enlightened and one that is willing to correct the mistakes of their parents.
An interview with one of the perpetrators of the worst hostage in the history of America reveals that they regret having done that. At the time, they were students and they thought that they were doing well to their country, just to realize that they had caused it harm that would last forever. They live with the ruins of what used to be the Embassy of the United States as a constant reminder of the main reason why their country is not moving forward. This interviewee however tries to justify their actions by saying that they were preventing the Americans from taking over their country, but it is clear that they took their defense actions too far, something that has cost them and the generations that came after them.
In conclusion, this book is a useful tool in the study of the Iranian history and the consequences of the 1979 Islamic revolution. It illustrates in an unbiased way the regrets and bitterness harbored by the young generation with regards to the actions of their parents of taking the American diplomats hostage for one hundred and forty four days. It also enables one to understand the long-term effects of a conflict. He portrays Iran as a country, which is still struggling to catch with the rest of the world, and this has proved difficult because they are not supported by any developed country. This book has added a lot of value to my understanding of the conflict between the Iranians and the Americans as well as the reasons behind the economic lag in Iran.
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